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Concerns about renting a car

Reading thru 2018 RS guide to Paris-saw recommendations for car rentals...went to book via Auto Europe, then saw a LOT of complaints on Trip Advisor about the agency doing a lot of underhanded and unethical things like charging for damages when there were none, adding charges and fees that were not disclosed...has anyone had a good experience with a car rental firm? We are going to be in France early Sept. and want to rent a car to go from Paris to the Normandy coast and then down to explore the Loire valley...

Posted by
118 posts

The last 2 times I have been in Europe (France and Italy) I booked with Europcar and had no problems with them

Posted by
3179 posts

Where on Tripadvisor do you see those bad reviews? And are you sure they were talking about AutoEurope, not Europcar?

I thought AutoEurope was just a booking agency that lists rental offers from various companies like Hertz, Europcar, etc.

Posted by
11354 posts

We have used AutoEurope, an American car rental broker for Europe, for many years with never one problem. They are based in Portland, Maine. The car rental will be with a rental company like Avis, Hertz, Europcar. Where did you ever find such a review? AutoEurope stands behind it's customers.

Posted by
3615 posts

I echo the statements above. Many experiences with AE. No complaints. Besides Europcar, there is another company with a similar name, AutoEuropa. Perhaps that’s the one with the bad reviews?

Posted by
8208 posts

AutoEurope is a consolidator located in New England. They purchase car rentals at a discount in bulk and sell the rentals to the public. They use a number of companies depending on the location you wish to rent from. They also do flights and accommodatjons.
I have rented for them and have got a Hertz car usually. Sometimes the rate is lower than my Hertz fleet card and sometimes it's not. My experience has been good.
Some big, familiar rental names doing business in Europe are franchises, and some don't run their businesses like the brand does in North America. I often hear complaints on such franchises.

Posted by
2577 posts

The complaints I have read about Autoeurope are from those who never actually read their contract´s Terms & Conditions and had unrealistic expectations. Anyone renting a car should be acutely aware of what costs are and what costs are not included in the quote.

Some possible charges which are specifically excluded from AE contracts are:

  1. road taxes
  2. pick up surcharges
  3. additional driver fees
  4. one way fees
  5. cleaning fees
  6. fees for responding to tickets from police
  7. potential fuel charges

These items are clearly indicated in plain language but many renters have the mistaken belief that what they pay AE is all that will be due. The above items are typically charged at drop off. If a renter fails to actually read the contact and, for example, adds additional drivers at pickup, he sometimes thinks that he has been cheated when he receives a credit card bill for these charges from the rental company.

Autoeurope contracts are very straight forward, for those who actually read them, and almost always include unlimited miles and 24/7 toll free lines in the event of any problems. I would definitely include an AE quote when looking for rental cars.

Posted by
3199 posts

I have rented from AutoEurope 15+ times on European trips and have NEVER been billed by them for anything other than the original rental fee. My credit card has been charged for damage to the vehicle by both Hertz and Europcar - and I did damage the cars. I also had a research charge from Europcar for driving into a ZTL in Rome. Again, a legitimate charge.

A lot of folks are unaware of what’s contained in a rental agreement. Companies have the right to charge (unreasonable) fees for research or administration. Those fees as well as damage and traffic violations are the normal post rental surprises. Even if you opt for zero deductible insurance, there’s an admin fee if you damage the vehicle. When I picked up my Europcar rental in Naples last December, there was a sign predominantly displayed on the counter enumerating these fees in many languages.

I’m returning to Italy in September and renting again through AutoEurope.

Posted by
8171 posts

To avoid damage charges we learned our lesson years ago when we got bogus charges in the US. We comb over the car very very carefully and force the vendor to note every tiny scratch on the paperwork. We got pilled for a small scratch years ago which they had said was 'nothing' when I pointed it out on taking the car. In Rome we discovered that they actually have a stamp they can put on Hertz paperwork that says no scratch or ding smaller than 5 cm will be billed; you have to make. a fuss documenting scratches for them to bring it out. Photos don't really prove anything, but having paperwork marked with any marks, dents, scratches etc does prove pre-existing damage. We spotted what looked like trivial undercarriage damage on a rental in Hawaii that the vendor had not noticed checking in the car; he told us that the previous renter would be charged $1500 for the damage and it wouldn't be covered by the insurance as it had obviously been done off road. In Rome we were once given a badly damaged car and they tried to confiscate the paperwork when we turned it in that proved the initial damage. It took me 3 hours to get proof/copies of that paperwork. They clearly thought we had a plane to catch and they could outwait us. Only by being very vigilant can you make sure old damage doesn't end up charged to you.

Posted by
7209 posts

I think all of the bogus/extra fees added come from the actual car rental agency (Hertz, Avis,etc) - not AutoEurope. When you rent through AE, then you can call them IF the rental agency adds those extra fees and AE will go to bat for you. I don't, for a second, think that AE adds additional/bogus fees to your bill.

Posted by
23431 posts

Our experience is somewhat similar with damage. European car rentals - most of the them -- are very picky when it comes to damage especially glass damage. So go over the car carefully with the attendee and photograph everything. We do the same a check-in and will point out items previously id. You cannot be too careful. But, in the end we have never had any problems - just a little extra time consuming.

Posted by
2916 posts

We've used Auto Europe many many times over the years, and never had a problem. Their vouchers are incredibly clear as to what is included and what's excluded. And when I've had a post-rental issue with the car rental firm, Auto Europe stepped in and straightened it out. Another agency you can use is Kemwel, which is under the same ownership as AE, but will often have different cars at any given location.

Posted by
27359 posts

Based on everything I've read about AutoEurope (over literally decades), I think most of the critical online report are probably a case of mistaken identity, assuming Transplanted hasn't made a mistake on the name himself/herself.

Posted by
4611 posts

Following up to above: I once rented from AuoEurope and indeed the one way fees are not included. The AE contract will give a range or a guess as to what the one way fee will be, then the car rental company will add the fee at drop off. So if as in my case you have used the Amex premium policy, you will get a second $20 charge for a second insurance policy, and have to call and get it removed. Another reason not to use AutoEurope.

Posted by
2916 posts

When I've reserved a one-way rental through AutoEurope, there's never been a drop off fee unless I was told in advance that there was such a fee and how much it was. A couple of years ago I rented one-way, Europcar through Auto Europe, and when I got home I saw a larger-than-expected charge from Europcar. Getting no response from Europcar (as per usual), I contacted Auto Europe and asked them if they could find out what the charge was for. They got back to me saying that most of it was a drop off fee, which was a mistake, so Auto Europe refunded it to me and charged it back to Europcar. That's why I no longer rent directly from the car rental companies in France.

Posted by
4611 posts

Comments:::: Domestic One Ways: Fee of 28.00 USD VAT included, paid locally.

Above is the comment from the AE voucher. So the $28 was subtracted from the AE estimate and payment, then charged locally, well about $18 was charged locally, not $28. One way fee was about 15 miles, in-town pick up to airport drop off.

Posted by
10298 posts

Never had an AE problem in 20 years of using them but they did advocate on my behalf with the European rental agencies several times and got charges dropped. As for drop fees--last year, AE showed the Hertz France rental had a one-way drop fee, so I chose the Europcar rental with no drop fee. No idea why TA has so many whiners as you say?

Posted by
6625 posts

I tried the search function on Trip Advisor and couldn't find anything re Auto Europe. Maybe there are reviews but I didn't find them. Maybe there's a company with a similar name. Auto Europe, as noted above, doesn't rent cars directly, but connects you with companies that do. It's based in Maine. I've used it several times and never had a problem.

Posted by
6732 posts

I always rent a vehicle in Europe and always use Avis. I’ve been happy with the service. Once I was charged for gas although I had pre-paid for it. It was a miscommunication (I purchased it at the counter, not when I made the reservation) and got straightened out fairly quickly.

Posted by
620 posts

I have booked a europecar rental through auto Europe twice. Auto Europe is great. In fact, europecar charged me for damage that never happened and Auto Europe fixed it for me immediately.